The Alliance for Global Justice will be leading a delegation to Colombia August 1-11. We are being hosted by Fensuagro, the largest organization of farmers and farm workers in Colombia, and by Traspaso los Muros/Beyond the Walls, a solidarity organization made up of political prisoners and their allies. The delegation will occur shortly after the completion of Colombia’s presidential elections, and will give us a good chance to assess what kinds of changes will be taking place. The delegation will be investigating three central questions:
1) Is there a US/Colombian war going on directed against farmers and farm workers?
2) What are the conditions of political prisoners and what role has the US government played in their treatment?
3) How will the elections affect farmers, farm workers and political prisoners (a large number of whom are Fensuagro members)?
The Colombian elections have two front runners at this time, Juan Manuel Santos and Antanas Mockus. Santos was Defense Minister during most of the Uribe administration and would represent a continuation of Uribismo. While Santos has been an architect of the war in Colombia, there is some speculation he might be a little less entrenched in his positions than was Uribe. Mockus has been presented as an alternative to–and a rejection of–Uribismo. But would his election represent a turn to the Left? On the one hand, Mockus has talked about normalizing relations with neighboring Venezuela–certainly a far different tone than what has been heard from both Uribe and Santos. However, he is also seen as corporate friendly and likely to continue policies of neoliberal economics–the kind of economy that has benefited so much by the massive displacement of rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations. So far Mockus has not talked about pursuing a humanitarian prisoner exchange or opening up dialogue toward a peace process that would involve all major parties, including guerrillas. These conditions are widely seen by the Colombian Left as a prerequisites for a just resolution to the war. Instead, Mockus has talked about continuing Uribe’s policy of “Democratic Security”, but with more legal accountability. If elected, how will Santos or Mockus respond to popular pressure for a just peace? Will their elections lead to more land grabs by big transnational corporations and/or consolidation and development of already stolen land? Or will they respond to the calls of the public for agrarian reform and an end to repression of the political opposition? These are all matters the AFGJ will investigate.
As part of this delegation, we will be spending most of our time in rural areas, visiting cooperative farms and meeting with indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders. We will also be in Bogota for several days, where we will meet with various unions and student groups, with a concentration on meetings with political prisoners, their families and legal and solidarity supporters.
Cost of delegation, $1,400, not including international airfare. Delegation costs include in-country travel expenses, food and lodging, translation, and other delegation related costs. Applications, with non-refundable $200 deposit due by June 15.
THE DEADLINE FOR JOINING THIS DELEGATION IS JUNE 15TH. If you are interested in finding out more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 520-243-0381.